While deployed to the Middle East Region for Operation MANITOU, HMAS Ballarat has conducted a boarding of a vessel in international waters in the Arabian Sea.
During the boarding, illicit cargo was discovered and seized which included nearly half a million rounds of small arms ammunition, and 697 bags of chemical fertiliser. The fertiliser has possible dual use for the manufacture of improvised explosives.
This seizure is of significant concern to maritime security, in particular the illicit proliferation of ammunition and chemicals which could be used to produce explosives.
HMAS Ballarat has safely disposed of the seized items and has resumed routine tasking. HMAS Ballarat has conducted 38 boardings since deploying to the Middle East on Operation MANITOU in November 2018.
During this time the crew of HMAS Ballarat has stopped illegal narcotics in excess of AUD$1 billion from funding terrorism and other illegal activity.
This is the second deployment to the Middle East for HMAS Ballarat and the 67th rotation of a Royal Australian Navy vessel in the region since 1990.
HMAS Ballarat is a long-range frigate capable of air defence, surface and undersea warfare, surveillance, reconnaissance and interdiction. Ballarat's combat capabilities have been significantly improved under the Anti-Ship Missile Defence upgrade program, which provided an enhanced sensor and weapons systems capability.
Operation MANITOU is the Australian government's contribution to support international efforts to promote maritime security, stability and prosperity in the Middle East.
An enhanced security environment ensures Australia's safe and open access to the region while fostering trade and commerce and a rules based global order.